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Common Issues with Security Camera Infrared (IR)

If you're not familiar with Infrared, it's what grants CCTV security cameras the ability to see in the dark. Unlike true "night vision", Infrared LEDs emit their own source of light instead of using existing sources; these LEDs essentially become a spotlight for your camera. While this is a magnificent feature to have in a camera, we live in an imperfect world and like everything else, it's not always what we'd like it to be. This short list of common problems people encounter with Infrared should provide you with some finer details to consider while installing your security cameras and potentially troubleshooting at a later date. As always, if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments section and we'll be happy to answer them.

Missing Foam Ring

Not every camera will have one, but most of them do. Glass will reflect Infrared light just like it will reflect any other kind of light. When this happens in a camera, the IR light will reflect off the glass and back into the lens; this produces a negative effect that will all but render your camera useless during these low light situations. The foam ring, while a simple concept, does a perfect job to eliminate this effect. If you find that you’re missing this component, you’ll first want to check to make sure that your camera should in fact have one before moving on to dismantling the camera. Your solution to this should be obvious.


Improper Placement of Foam Ring

Having a foam ring be completely missing from a camera is very uncommon, but having a foam ring that isn't seated properly is much more likely. When the foam ring is not seated flush with the IR board, or base of the lens, it will produce a similar effect on your low light image feed. You’ll simply need to open the camera and ensure that this ring is in the position that it should be.

Plastic Film on Glass

Most cameras will have a thin plastic protective film over the glass on the camera. This film is on the glass for a reason, but it should not be left on the glass after the camera is finished being installed. Once, you’re satisfied with the camera placement and viewing angle, remove the plastic cover and discard it.


Obstruction on Glass

One of the big reasons that plastic film is on the glass is to keep everything else off of it. Things such as dirt, dust, and fingerprints on your glass can cause the effect known as Infrared glare. Similar to other issues you can encounter, this is caused by the IR light reflecting off of these obstructions and bouncing back into the lens. Once again, you’ll notice that your low light viewing needs will not be met in a case like this. Thoroughly clean the glass and remove any of these obstructions and consider the problem solved.


Infrared Glare

We just touched on it but we’d like to make it a little broader now. While IR glare can certainly be caused by debris on your cameras glass, it’s much more common for it to be caused in other ways. For outdoor cameras, your biggest enemy is going to be reflective surfaces; bodies of water and larger lightly colored surfaces are the most common culprits. Indoor cameras are usually affected by the items or furniture surrounding them. While these objects may not even be within the cameras field of view, the objects can be close enough to reflect the IR LEDs and cause IR glare. More common than anything else, IR glare is caused by improper installation. How you mount the camera, whether it be wall or ceiling mounted, needs to be done carefully and tested both in daytime and low light conditions before calling the job complete.


In the video below we demonstrate the IR glare phenomenon and discuss steps to ensure that it does not happen when you are mounting security cameras. Before assuming that your night vision security camera is malfunctioning, it is important to preposition the camera or bench test the camera with a known good power supply and short cable to ensure that the camera is functioning properly.

Infrared Reflection

The problem you are having could be due to IR reflection, which occurs due to a number of reasons listed below. Please, go through the list diligently to find the reason that pertains to your situation.
1) Your camera is indoors looking through a window. If you have the camera looking through a window, the IR will bounce of the window. IR cameras cannot be mounted behind any other glass.
2) For cameras with a glass dome cover, you need to make sure the LED lights on the IR board are not being obstructed by the camera body. All the IR LEDs must be looking through the glass dome. If the camera inside is set incorrectly, Infrared Light will bounce inside the camera and hit the image sensor.
3) Make sure you have removed the plastic cover on the outside of the glass dome.
4) Make sure the glass dome is clean. Clean it with a damp microfiber cloth or windshield cleaner only. Do not use any other chemicals on the glass.
5) You have mounted the camera to close to a wall, ceiling, or in between two walls. In this case the camera's IR leds will be obstructed and cause IR reflection.


Infrared Obstruction

When you have an object too close to a security camera with infrared, it will cause that object to be over exposed because of the IR light shining off of it. To compensate, the camera will automatically compensate for the over exposure by dimming the picture. This will reduce the IR intensity of the camera, hence obstructing the IR of the camera. Below is an example of the water-shield on top of the bullet camera creating an obstruction that is getting lit up by the camera's IR LED's and the camera is adjusting exposure automatically to deal with it and in the process causing the objects farther away to appear darker. A situation such as this require the obstruction to be removed from the camera's field of view.

ir obstruction

Further reading

For further reading to improve your knowledge base of security cameras a good starting point is our security camera buying guide. For troubleshooting performance of your security cameras, we suggest our security camera help knowledge base.

is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading Security Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. His area of expertise is in designing professional security camera systems for medium and large scale businesses, schools, and government projects.


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50 thoughts on “Common Issues with Security Camera Infrared (IR)”

  • we have a issue with Pelco IXP51 box camera, we are installing IR Illuminator with this camera. but when we see picture in the dark (night) camera not stable in black & white mode, it is switching between color and B & W.Looking forward for your kind tech. support.

  • I have a PTZ camera mounted under my house eave. When it is pointed along the wall (parallel to wall) it functions well. As it is rotated away (approaching 80-90 degrees from house) it gets flooded with reflected IR. Must be pointed down almost 90 degrees to prevent. Tried different locations under eave to no relief. Any suggestions?

  • CCTV Camera World January 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Does your IR ptz camera have a glass dome around the camera?

  • CCTV Camera World January 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    That is a difficult one. We suggest you contact Pelco directly.

  • yes, it has a dome.

  • Yes it has a dome on the housing

  • CCTV Camera World February 3, 2016 at 9:26 am

    IR ptz cameras with a glass dome around the Infrared LEDs are an inferior design as the glass will lead to reflection. It is a common issue we've seen with IR PTZ cameras, and therefore we don't carry cameras with such flawed design, and we advised against purchasing such type of camera.

  • Thank you for your solid answer.I have returned the camera and ordered another (before your answer).This one without a dome. It is functioning well.

  • I have pillars outside of my home. I recently installed a security system including IR cameras. My back cameras are flawless, but my cameras on the front reflect a lot of light off of the pillars. The pillars are 6" wood pillars wrapped in white tin. What can be done (I have the angle I'm after) to either totally eliminate the glare or cut it down?Thanks in advance,Andy

  • CCTV Camera World April 12, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    You cannot use cameras with IR when there is any object close by in front of the camera's view, and especially not tin. You will need to get a camera without IR that is a low lux camera. There some new star light cameras that we are starting to see in the pipeline.

  • I have an IR camera facing my front door and it works fine however, when I flip it upside down to face the sidewalk, I get IR glare. It's not facing any reflective surfaces and the lense is clean. Any suggestions?

  • My problem is simple: spiders. Every camera I have has the nighttime view obscured by spiderwebs. Sure I brush off the lenses whenever I can but a couple are 14 feet in the air! Just one cobweb tossing in the breeze keeps the camera motion detector busy until dawn. The solution seems obvious. Finding a security camera where the infrared lights are separate from the camera so as not to light up close in objects. Does such a thing exist?

  • It is possible but not economical. Also cameras without infrared on-board are usually made with CCD or CMOS sensors not programmed to be IR sensitive.

  • I might try disabling the LEDs in my cameras. Ive ordered a standalone ir light from Amazon. We'll see how it goes

  • José Carlos Martínez Zapata October 20, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Hello.I have intalled cameras three months ago and they atarted to work right with night vision, however the infrared leds are stopping to work. The cameras are Provision and the power supply is Provision. https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

  • CCTV Camera World October 23, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    That is classic component failure of inexpensive cameras. You will need to replace the camera.

  • I am using an infrared camera for monitoring the stage in a theatre performance. It works fine most of the time but I have a show coming up with a set that is painted almost entirely white. Could this cause issues with glare? I've heard that they've had issue with this before I started here, not sure if it was because the camera was not configured properly or if using an infrared camera on a white background isn't really possible.Thanks!

  • CCTV Camera World November 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    If the paint is reflective, then it will cause glare.

  • I have a Lorex 8 camera system. The cameras were all working fine until recently. Now if I view them on my monitor or phone they work perfect in the daytime. When it gets dark outside they turn on and off repeatedly until morning. Can't figure out what is wrong.

  • Hi, I bought a cctv system, POE 8CH, in ChinaThe quality in day is good, but the night, i see nothing, i ve check all the recommendation on this but always nothing, i ve upgraded the nvr and the ipc..I ve tested the cam indoor, the reds led is ON, the picture is very bad after 1m. The seller say me that it s not normal but i think that the led is not enough.Maybe the poe supply is not enough for 4M camera + power up the led's?Do you think that i have to buy an external IR illuminator? Or may I directly connect the existing camera's led on an external supply power ?Thx for your repply.https://uploads.disquscdn.c... https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

  • CCTV Camera World November 21, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    This is not a problem with the IR. They sold you cheap cameras where the sensor is not properly tuned for IR.

  • I have a Provision PnV camera which on the 1st night worked perfectly but since then I am not getting any picture during the night only daytime. Chris

  • Uniden G445. I have 4 cameras, and all worked fine for a year. Then one camera stopped switching to IR mode. I've cleaned the glass. Any other ideas? Thanks in advance!

  • CCTV Camera World January 8, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Sounds like the IR board died on the camera. You would have to replace the camera as parts for Uniden cameras can only be obtained from Uniden and they don't sell parts.

  • Thanks for the fast reply. That camera is only 7 months old, newest of the bunch.

  • I've installed a Nest outdoor cam inside the house, looking out the window to the front walk. This is at our relatively remote summer cottage, and I installed it indoors to avoid winter snow and storms, and also to prevent anyone from tampering with it. The problem is, at night, the IR reflects off the glass window, obliterating the view outside. Would putting automotive tint paper, or neutral density paper, on the window, or over the lens solve this problem? Any other solutions?

  • CCTV Camera World February 2, 2017 at 11:52 am

    There is no way to resolve IR glare from a window in front of a camera. You need to mount the camera outdoors.

  • That's what I figured. Thanks for your response!

  • I have a samsung security camera system. One of the cameras night vision works some nights and some nights it doesn't. Any ideas? The system was just bought in December.

  • CCTV Camera World February 24, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Issues like this are common with low cost systems. If you are using a power splitter connected to a power supply rather than a power box, you may want to consider swapping that out with a proper power box. It may also be that the camera is defective. It could have a bad photosensor in the front of the IR board.

  • I just got done installing a bunch of Lorex PTZ HD IP cameras and after reading about and watching videos of their super awesome night vision and color night vision capabilities.... it looks like the cameras really suck in the dark because they don't have IR. My question for you (since I don't trust them), should I install IR flood devices to provide "light" for them to actually see? Or is there something possibly with those cameras that don't work well with IR that I should know about? Please advise. Also, if you know of good IR floods that can cover large areas, possibly with light sensitive triggering.. I'd appreciate any info or suggestions. Thanks!

  • CCTV Camera World March 12, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    The cameras and DSP need to be tuned to be IR sensitive. If the camera doesn't have infrared LEDs already and you add IR floods, you will see no improvement as cameras with IR are usually only configured to be IR sensitive.

  • I just mounted an IP security camera inside my house at a glass window on the side of the front door. It provides amazing HD imagery of a day. At night, the Infrared LEDs are reflecting off the internal glass, back into the lens and completely washing out my IR night vision. Can I place IR reflective film on the glass in front of the camera to stop the blinding refletion of the IR LEDs? How can I fix the issue without having to mount the camera outside where it may get stolen or affected by meteorological conditions?

  • CCTV Camera World March 22, 2017 at 11:48 am

    You have to mount the camera outside. There is no way around it unfortunately.

  • I have a camera that the IRs quit working after dark. Even when I put another IR source, either from another camera or an external IR light, it makes no difference to the camera. Does the IR device have some kind of a triggering voltage back to the camera to change it's mode or something?

  • are all led suppose to light up only part of mind are night vision is dim

  • CCTV Camera World October 20, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Depends on the camera. If you camera has a ring of IR LEDs around it, then all should light up.

  • CCTV Camera World October 24, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    It has to do with a IR cut filter.

  • my question is the same some of the lights are lighting up and before this have been working very well and night vision is dim may you help me to know where is the issue

  • and to continue i place the camera inside and is the same issue means no reflation is there and i cleaned the glass .it is iOutdoor PTZ 4x Optical Zoom HD 720P WiFi IP Camerai open the glass to check for the ring and was there and before had a very clear pic at night

  • My bullet camera with IR is placed under light sources (flood lights) in the corner of my house, what is the best positioning so that it will show better and clearer picture at night?

  • Hello...I have 4 has been placed about a foot and a half from wall that extends out about 2 feet due to the does not work well at night...any suggestions? Can i place a light by it somewhere to fix the issue or is it the camera?

  • one of my outdoor cams (wired) has mostly lost color! The grass looks white. only see a little red on my bird feeders. Color has gotten worse the last few months.Lost colors. Is this due to being old?

  • CCTV Camera World May 9, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Could be but we recommend checking the power source to make sure it is putting out adequate amperage and voltage.

  • tried plugging into a different spot. Nothing. I really am thinking the cam has just gone bad with color. :-(

  • I lost the images to my CCTV cameras almost at once (at night.) When I checked the cameras, I could not see the red IR lights on any of them. During the day, only one camera produces an image.

  • Hello, my Ip camera doesn't stop using nightvision during daytime. At first it worked properly, but now it is always nightvision. What can I do?

  • CCTV Camera World July 5, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Try setting it back to factory default.

  • Over the period of 10 years, I've gone through 4 different CCTV setups.I have my camera next to a wall, and always had the same position, but with varying results depending on the camera, and I'm wondering why.Cam 1, heavy glareCam 2. no glareCam 3, no glass, (this one was super bright too, twice the LED's as the 4th.)Cam 4, small amount of glare.So it's obvious distance to the wall is not the only factor, moving the cam isn't really a practical solution, I'd rather just downgrade back to the 1080p cam if I can't find a work around.What I noticed with the two cameras which didn't have glare is, they had longer hoods over the top and of course they curl around the sides too a bit, but I was thinking surely that wouldn't stop reflection, if I glued on some plastic to extend the hoods, wouldn't the camera just reflect of the hood?Also they had more depth to the plastic ring around the lens separating the lens from the IR lights, maybe it's just that, this of course is on the inside of the LED's, as opposed to the sun glare hood, which is on the outside like the wall. (So I'm thinking this is the solution, although finding something to fit on there is going to be a task.)Also I'm thinking, perhaps a different type of glass, maybe its got a special anti IR glare costing or something.So to me, it seems like there is 3 possible factors, I'm unsure which, any ideas?Another problem I have is with street lamp glare, cam 3 didn't have this, but cam 4 does.

  • HiI want to set a protection over my CTV camera and I have found a housing cover in acrylic.Do you think that will interfere with the IR beams from the camera and the motion sensor for activation?Best regardsErik